75 percent of the works damaged by a fire in the Narva-Jõesuu Saint Vladimir Orthodox Church on Sunday can be restored, experts said after an initial assessment.
The Orthodox Church in Narva-Jõesuu caught flames in the early morning hours on Sunday with the emergency center (Häirekeskus) receiving a call at around 5 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the building, known as the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God, was fully ablaze, needing four hours to be put out.
First responders managed to extinguish the fire and save the church building, which is wooden, but not before a large number of valuable church items were destroyed. An assessment of the damages to the protected building itself will take some time to conduct, the Estonian National Heritage Board announced on Wednesday.
The process to rescue the valuable icons and paraphernalia was started as soon as conditions allowed on Sunday, but a majority of the works in the church received heat, soot and water damages.
On Tuesday, the works were assessed by Heritage Board experts, along with conservators from Kanut, a heritage protection center, conducting on-site primary emergency conservation - mainly dealing with covering the damaged icons with prophylactic stickers in order to avoid peeling and discoloration during drying.
There were 105 valuable artworks in the Saint Vladimir Church, along with other church assets of great value to the local congregation. Heritage Board cultural heritage department head Linda Lainvoo pointed out a collection of high-quality Orthodox objects from the second half of the 19th century in particular. The collection consists of icons, chandeliers and other hanging lights, in addition to liturgical objects such as crosses and cups, to go with textiles and printed materials.
Heritage Board monument and museum collection inspector Kadri Tael said the first view of the church was quite uncomforting. "The initial overview showed that some valuable icons, including one of the most important ones of the church - the icon behind the throne, but also five icons of the royal gate - have been completely destroyed. The overview was rather positive when it comes to movable works, 75-80 percent of the objects can be restored, "Tael said.
Seriously damaged works that have gone through primary conservation will be taken to the Narva Museum. The local municipality government has found facilities to store the remaining objects.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste